Royal Air Force Museum is the latest project by Nex— in order to revitalise the museum's historic site for the Royal Airforce Centenary in 2018.
Location: London, UK
Team: Alan Dempsey, Keti Carapuli, Kwon Jung, Rowan Morrice, Matt Hepburn
Collaborators: Landscape Architecture - Agence Ter, Project Management + Cost: Ridge, Structural + Environmental Engineering - Buro Happold, Lighting: DHA Design, Exhibition Design: Kossmann De Jong + Met Studio
Project's description: The new buildings and masterplan will bring a much-needed coherence to the site, and will offer new spaces that enhance visitor experience and better communicate the story of RAF people and technology in their Centenary year and beyond.
The new Masterplan will create a greener setting for the museum buildings, with circulation and views organised in a system of axes. These recall runways and cross the site from edge to edge. A circular ‘taxiway’ at the heart of the site allows access to all exhibitions.
A prominent new entrance and visitor centre will act as a welcome and orientation point. This new foyer is signaled by a dramatic 40m long entrance with a deep cantilevered roof canopy for sheltering large crowds. An adjacent water tank, re-clad in a new skin of distinctive, anodised aluminium fins, acts as a further entrance marker.
Inside, the hangar will be reconfigured to incorporate a new central volume providing a café, shop, members’ room, public viewing galleries and flexible use spaces. Inspired by the overlapping blades of a jet turbine engine the building is clad in aluminium fins arranged radially to create changing perceptions of transparency and solidity as visitors move around the building.
Across the site Nex are creating a new 170 seat restaurant by converting a semi-derelict former officers’ mess dating from the 1930s. The original brick walls and steel roof trusses will be complemented at lower level with new ash panelling and display cabinets and stained oak flooring. This contrasts with a lighter treatment above, created with white walls, delicate metal display cases and extensive glazed roof lights.
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